Beyond the brand | Dan Holden | Internal communication is continually evolving

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Dan Holden joined All Things IC in April 2022 as a communication consultant. He provides consultancy, training, mentoring and coaching for internal communicators and organisations across the globe. In this feature, he shares insights into his career, the industry and his interests. 

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The industry

Why did you pursue a career in public relations and communications?

While working for an airline as a cabin crew member, I undertook a secondment position at the headquarters. This was an eye-opener as I realised how much I was missing out on. Chatting to colleagues working in other teams, hearing their misunderstandings about the role of cabin crew, and finding out about events and opportunities that I would have otherwise not known about gave me the appetite to want to learn more about the organisation.

My boss supported my professional development, encouraging me to complete an internal communication diploma, get out of the business, and network. Discovering that my work was an actual career gave me confidence to continue within the profession. Here I am 10 years later!

What areas within the industry are you most interested in (currently)?

My passion is internal communication. As a communication consultant, I’m privileged to work with brilliant communicators. Hearing their passion for developing their internal communication approach and wanting to do their best for their colleagues gives me a real buzz.

I also love the fact that I’m learning new things every week; our profession is continually evolving. Whether it’s finding new ways of using channels, new approaches to content delivery, how internal communicators use artificial intelligence (AI), or reading publications about internal comms, it’s a continual learning journey. 

How has public relations and communications changed since you first started working in the industry?  

Aspects such as technology are continually changing. The development of AI over the last few years has been faster, which is a challenge for communicators to keep up with. Many topics I remember peers discussing, such as measurement and line manager communications, are still topics that come up in discussion most days. 

The big change I’ve felt in internal communication is professionalisation. There are more opportunities to study, from a one-day introduction course to diplomas and a master’s degree. An increasing number of internal communicators are achieving accreditation and recognition for their contribution to the profession. This is also reflected by the number of books available. I’ve now got a whole bookshelf dedicated to internal comms textbooks!

Leadership and management

What do you believe makes a company a great place to work in? 

The people and culture. When I look back at all the roles I’ve done in my career, it’s the people who made the difference. Working for organisations and leaders who take a genuine interest in the views, feelings and thoughts of their employees goes a long way. I still recommend previous employers where I enjoyed my time and felt they offered the right culture for me.

Do you work in an office, remotely or have a hybrid model? What is your preference, and why?

At All Things IC, we all work remotely, but we’re well-connected as a team. We often say ‘We’re remote but not distant’ as a team. I’m fortunate to live in the countryside, and it’s good for my wellbeing to switch the laptop off and step outside for a walk. I enjoy supporting clients on-site or meeting communicators at a training venue. Face-to-face conversations often bring richer insights than you might get over a video call.


What is your favourite book or movie?

This is a tough one. ‘New Yorkers’ by Craig Taylor sits at the top. Partly because I enjoy collections of short stories, but also because of the variety of individual conversations he has with residents of New York, which are inspiring. 

I’m reading ‘The Bookseller at the End of the World’ by Ruth Shaw. It’s a wonderful story about a woman who opened a bookstore in remote New Zealand. The short stories about the people she meets and their journeys are heartwarming. This will be another book at the top of my recommended list.

Would you welcome a digital detox for a week or approach it with caution? 

I find a digital detox doesn’t work for me. I’m happy to put my phone down and enjoy the moments, but knowing it means, at some point, I’ll be coming back to a backlog of notifications doesn’t allow me to switch off. I find it better that day to day, I manage how apps send me notifications. Some I switch off, others I set for a daily notification, which works well.

When it comes to work, once my out-of-office is on, I don’t need to check on work. Completing a handover with the team and briefing clients in advance means I can take time off without worrying about anything.

Do you prefer sun holidays or city breaks?

City breaks. I love the idea of a beach holiday, but I get bored easily, and I love going out and exploring.

If you won the lotto what would you do?

I’d move back to Scotland, ideally to the highlands and islands, and set up a bed and breakfast. I’ve worked in hospitality and been an Airbnb host, and I love meeting people.